For whatever reason, the lowly Houston Astros have John Danks' number.
Danks coughed up seven runs on 12 hits in 4 1/3 innings as the White Sox lost, 11-7, to the Astros on Sunday afternoon in front of 26,256 at U.S. Cellular Field. In two starts against Houston this year, Danks has allowed 22 hits, 14 earned runs and five home runs.
"In the two games against them there have certainly been some bad pitches that were hit well," Danks said, "but today I felt like, not all the time, but certainly there were some pitches where I threw it where I wanted to, made the ball do what I wanted to, and they just hit it. Most of it's on me but there were certainly a few hits in there where you tip your hat."
Danks felt his bread-and-butter changeup was exposed on Sunday because he didn't have a feel for his breaking ball, which showed as he only threw four curveballs and four cutters, according to BrooksBaseball.net, in his 75 pitches. Granted, the high changeup he threw to Jose Altuve — which went for a two-run homer — wasn't where he wanted it to be.
On the whole, Houston was effective in jumping on the pitches Danks left up in the zone, halting a 10-game stretch in which Danks posted a 2.69 ERA.
"They were swinging it today, and when you see a team get that many hits you have to be able to stop them somehow," manager Robin Ventura said. "John has pitched better, and we have pitched better as a whole at times. Today is one of those day when we didn’t do it very well. We battled back, got close to it a just couldn’t hold on. We couldn’t stop them."
Danks didn't get saddled with the loss thanks to some offensive resiliency and some brutal Astros defense. The White Sox battled back from an early 4-0 deficit to cut Houston's lead to 4-3 in the fourth when first baseman Jon Singleton let Adrian Nieto's ground ball go through his legs, scoring two runs.
The White Sox then worked back from a 7-3 deficit, with Alejandro De Aza beating out a double play ball in the fifth to score a run. Alexei Ramirez then delivered an RBI double in the sixth before a pair of errors helped the White Sox tie things up.
Jose Abreu singled to center to score Ramirez and advanced to second on a wild throw by center fielder Enrique Hernandez. Dayan Viciedo followed by hitting a ground ball to second that got past Altuve, bringing in Abreu and tying the game at seven.
The White Sox lost the game, though, when Daniel Webb surrendered four runs in the top of the seventh, three of which came with two out. The White Sox lost out on a chance to sweep a series coming out of the All-Star break and still only have one three-game sweep this season — that coming in late May against Cleveland.
"Nothing else really to say, it sucked," Danks said. "I dug us a hole. These guys fought hard to get out of it but it sucks to set a tone like that. For whatever reason, Houston's beat me up this year. Fortunately we're done with them and we won the series, but it stinks to go out there with a chance to sweep and not pitch well."